Monday, April 23, 2007

Coming Soon...

Tuesday morning, you can read my running diary from Game 2 of the Rockets-Jazz series at the Houston Press website. And on Friday, I'll release my final mock draft. Check 'em out and let me know what you think.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

NBA Playoff Preview

The NBA playoffs are finally underway, so you know I had to break out the crystal ball and speculate on what we're about to see. Check out my analysis and let me know what you think. Also dropped a couple of columns on the upcoming NFL draft as well.

By the way, I'm sure you have figured this out by now, but 99% of my writing these days is appearing on the Houston Press website. So if you're looking for new material, that's where you'll find three or four new columns each week.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Miss a week, miss a lot

Well, not really, but the quality is good, I promise. Earlier this week, I unveiled my trade scenarios involving Tracy McGrady. And around 1 PM (CST) today you'll be able to peruse my preview of the 2007 Texans' season (on the Houston Press website, of course). For what it's worth, my editor thought it was funny. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Double Your Pleasure Friday!

Hot off the (Houston) presses this Good Friday: Two columns for the price of one! The first dishes on the UFC's Houston debut, while the second asks whether or not it's time for the Rockets to deal Tracy McGrady. Check the Houston Press website Friday morning to read and sound off. Have a great Easter weekend, everyone and thanks for reading.


Monday, April 2, 2007

MLB and NCAA Predictions

Well, folks, I guess it was inevitable. Today, I brought my Miss Cleo act to the unsuspecting readers of the Houston Press. The subject matter: The just-underway MLB season and, of course, tonight's NCAA championship game. Check it out and let me know what you think.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Phi Slama Jama: 24 years later

Since it's Final Four weekend, I decided to take a painful stroll down memory lane and write about the best team to never win a college basketball title. Check it out, let me know what you think and feel free to pass along your own excruciating sports memories. Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for reading.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mockin' It Up

Mock Draft version 4.0 is now available bug-free and fully operational. For the first time, trades are part of the equation and the results are pretty wacky, but my no means implausible. Check it out at the Houston Press website. Cheers!


Monday, March 26, 2007

What's New and What's to Come

Just in case you're wondering, I hate Kansas. Passionately. But it's my own dumb fault. I knew better than to trust them. Anyway, my weekend wrap will be available at the Houston Press website Tuesday morning. Thanks to all those who posted comments over the weekend. Also, look for Mock Draft version 4.0 Wednesday. You've been warned!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

This Better Work

There's a New #8 in Town

Well, you know I had to sound off on the Texans' big trade. You can read my response on the Houston Press website here. Obviously, David Carr had to go. But it's a damn shame things didn't work out with him here in H-Town. He was always a stand-up guy and he took FAR more heat than he ever deserved. Seems so long ago that this city was in love with the guy when he became the franchise cornerstone. Hell, I wore his jersey proudly for years. I just hope he ends up with a team like Detroit, where he'd have a shot at success with Mike Martz and company, as opposed to a "Welcome to hell" franchise like Oakland. By the way, this paragraph was brought to you by Tiffany and her heartbreaking rendition of "Could've Been".

As for tonight's NCAA games, I think the chalk will continue to thrive, with one exception: Texas A&M is going to knock off the Tigers from Memphis. But is that even an upset at this point? Considering Memphis may be without its best player, I say no. Looking ahead to tomorrow's tilts, I'll take Georgetown, Florida, UNLV and... man, I want to pick USC, I really do. But I have to stick with my bracket. So Tar Heels survive in a squeaker.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


For those of you wondering where I've been, fear not, everything is just peachy and I'm not going anywhere. Well, actually, that's not exactly true. I'm now sports blogging for the Houston Press and my initial offering should be up Wednesday morning. I cordially invite you to check it out (frequently) here. There are three of us posting, so there should be some interesting back and forth and I'd love for you guys (and girls) to jump in and sound off. As for my beloved Clutch City Chronicles, I fully expect it to stay operational and active as well.

As always, thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


From Any Angle, Steve Nash is Still the MVP

I really hope everyone stayed up late and watched the Dallas-Phoenix instant classic. I'd be willing to bet the house that no game in the NCAA tournament will come close to matching the drama in this one. A few quick hits on the Suns 129-127 double OT win:
  • The biggest development of this game was Dirk Nowitzki's disappearing act that began in the final minutes of regulation and continued throughout both overtime periods. First, Dirk went one of two from the line twice in the game's final minutes. Then, he proceeded to do his best Karl Malone crunch-time impression the rest of the way. Coming on the heels of last June's choke job, this has to be a major concern for Mavs' fans. Yes, Dirk is the team's best player. But in the clutch, Jason Terry is their go-to guy. And I'm not sure that's a good thing.
  • Can we go ahead and just hand Steve Nash the MVP trohpy? 10 points in the final 55 seconds of regulation? 32 points, 16 assists and 8 boards? Hitting the game-tying trey? Throw in the fact that the Suns are winless without Nash in the line-up and you've got all the ingredients necessary for a third straight most valuable player award.
  • I don't think this game means much, if anything, come playoff time. Both teams are who we thought they were. The real key is the race to claim the West's #1 seed. As much as I love Phoenix, I really question whether or not they have the depth to beat both San Antonio and Dallas in seven game series. And if they can't overtake the Mavs (they're currently 2 1/2 games back), that's their path to the title.
  • How great is it to see Amare Stoudemire back to 100%? Six months ago, I wondered whether NBA fans were going to be robbed of seeing this force of nature fully develop, due to his seemingly slow recovery from microfracture surgery. And while he still has a way to go in fulfilling his potential, he's back to being one of the most dynamic players to watch on a daily basis.
  • Classic game from Shawn Marion. Made a ton of little plays like the rebound and subsequent pass leading to Nash's game-tying three, as well as superior defense on Dirk in overtime. Marion has a tendency to be a shrinking violet come playoff time, so no doubt Phoenix is praying this is the Matrix that shows up in May and June.

I Hate My Bracket

If you read Monday's column, you already know my braketology theory. If you didn't, here's all you need to know: Knowledge and expertise don't mean jack. Now having said that, I like to think I'm fairly competent when it comes time to fill out my bracket. Have I ever won an office pool? No. But I usually finish in the top ten and I've correctly picked the tournament champion five out of the last seven years. That has to count for something, right?

But this year, I'm utterly clueless. In fact, I thoroughly despise my bracket. I've got plenty of upsets and (what I believe to be) a fairly solid Final Four, so that's good. But too many people like the teams I'm backing and my predicted national champion leaves me feeling about as confident as Peyton Manning on Prom night (speaking of which, can you believe this guy is married?!? It's true, check it out. I'm telling you, this has shaken my world to the very core). But hey, since knowledge is decidedly NOT power during March Madness, perhaps my relative unease is a good thing. Anyway, on with the picks:

Sweet 16
  1. Florida: duh
  2. Davidson: I told you I went with some underdogs
  3. Winthrop: See above. Although Notre Dame and Oregon are good enough to reach the Elite 8
  4. Georgia Tech: Does anyone trust Wisconsin right now?
  5. Kansas: But watch out for Scottie Reynolds and Villanova as a possible stumbling block in round 2
  6. Virginia Tech: These guys are FUN to watch
  7. Duke: I know, I know. I hate this pick and they're terrible this year. But NO ONE thinks they'll even win one game. So I'm gonna play the contrarian and take them. Just please, whatever you do, don't take Pitt past the Sweet 16. They're NOT good. Trust me. One other thing: beware picking against teams who have been taking a beating from critics this week. Everyone is knocking Arkansas, Stanford and Illinois for receiving invites and everyone thinks Duke is a one and done. But I'm here to tell you, at least one of these teams is going to make some noise this weekend.
  8. UCLA: Pretty much a lock to reach the Elite 8
  9. North Carolina: #1 seeds are generally locks to make the Sweet 16
  10. Texas: Here comes Kevin Durant
  11. Oral Roberts: Hey, they beat Kansas this year
  12. Georgetown: I've already stated my man-crush for this team
  13. Ohio State: Could get tested in round two, but will prevail
  14. Tennessee: Not an easy pick. First round game against Long Beach State will be an absolute shoot-out and could be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend
  15. Texas A&M: Acie Law IV is ready
  16. Memphis: No one knows what to expect from these guys
Elite 8
  1. Florida: Ho hum
  2. Winthop: I'm crazy, I know. But you've got to have a Cinderella somewhere
  3. Kansas: I can't tell you how tempted I was to put Virginia Tech here
  4. UCLA: Easy path, so far
  5. North Carolina: Sorry, this is where the Kevin Durant show ends. Don't be surprised if Rick Barnes takes a lot of heat for this loss because the 'Horns coughed up another big lead thanks to his complete lack of creativity when it comes to getting KD the ball down the stretch in tight games
  6. Georgetown: I used to HATE the Hoyas. My, how times have changed
  7. Ohio State: No way Durant AND Oden both bow out in the round of 16
  8. Texas A&M: "... I'm steppin' tall, y'all and just like Humpty Dumpty, you're gonna fall when the stereos pump me..."
Final Four (You know these already, so I'll just post them again and move on)
  1. Florida
  2. Kansas (Gulp)
  3. Georgetown
  4. Texas A&M
Championship Game

Kansas (what am I thinking!??!?!) vs. Georgetown

Ok, so... on Monday I explained my problem with Florida. Best starting five in the land with the highest ceiling. I just think they're due for a clunker at some point and Kansas is one of the few teams that can actually match up with them. Of course, the Jayhawks gag more often than the Olsen twins, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see them eliminated before April rolls around. But once upon a time, the Gators wore the choker label, too, so I guess these curses have to be broken sometime.

As for the Aggies, there's just no way two Big 12 teams are going to face off for the title. And let's face it, this is Texas A&M for Pete's sake. The Aggies can't just stroll into the college basketball spotlight and steal a national title. Take a look at the list of NCAA men's champions and tell me when a non-traditional college basketball school last won the whole enchilada. It just doesn't happen. Yes, Billy Gillispie has A&M pointed in the right direction. But they're not ready just yet.

National Champ

Kansas 75 - Georgetown 72

Like I said, I hate my bracket.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Paying Homage to the 'Hoff

Who Else Could Pull This Off but the 'Hoff, Himself?

Love him or hate him, you gotta respect the 'Hoff. I mean, who else in the history of mankind has done more with less? Somehow, the guy managed to parlay slightly above average looks (ummm, so I've been told) with minimal acting and singing skills into an extraordinarily successful career in TV and music. You don't know how he did it, and it sure doesn't seem fair, but you can't argue with the results.

And that, my friends, is why David Hasselhoff is my patron saint of March Madness. Look, I don't consider myself a college basketball expert. Odds are, I'm probably just like you. I don't really start paying close attention to college hoops until football season is over. I check out the box scores, watch bits and pieces of certain games during the week and then start cranking it up when the conference tournaments rolls around. But that's the beautiful thing about filling out a bracket; none of that information really helps you, anyway. That's why the office secretary who's more interested in a peanut buster parfait than a bracket buster walks away with the cash every year. So who cares about skill and expertise? It never got in the way of the 'Hoff. And it shouldn't be a roadblock for you either.

So with Mr. Baywatch as our guide, there's no reason to go into intricate detail of each and every match-up. Instead, I'll provide a few helpful dos and don'ts, as well as my own personal Final Four.

DON'T place too much stock into what happened last year: Last season, not a single #1 seed made it to the Final Four. There's a reason that's never happened before. It was a fluke occurrence made possible by the near absence of truly elite teams. Outside of Connecticut, no club really possessed a roster that struck fear in the hearts of opponents. And while Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio State won't all make the trip to Atlanta, I guarantee at least one (and probably two) will be there.

DO believe in the power of Kevin Durant. I imagine I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but there's no way KD will allow his team to fall short of the Sweet 16. Yes, the Longhorns play matador defense and, yes, you'll want to strangle Rick Barnes for his strategy at times, but the NCAA wants its marquee player to showcase his stuff for a couple games at least, and I have no doubt Durant will happily oblige them.

DON'T use "up" as a suffix anymore. It was bad enough when the Red Sox turned the term "cowboy-up" into a national phenomenon in 2004. Now, similar words are being coined on a seemingly daily basis. In the last 24 hours alone, I've heard "orange-up", "bracket-up" and "lawyer-up". Seriously, people, this has got to stop. It's just as annoying, unoriginal and ubiquitous as the whole "first letter of first name, first three letters of last name" nickname craze (like A-Rod, K-Rod, F-Rod, etc.). Are we that devoid of creative ideas that this is what we're left with? I refuse to believe it. So from now on, let's make an effort to vocab-up and figure out a better way to express ourselves.

DO feel free to laugh at the Knicks for handing Isiah Thomas a multi-year contract extension. I know this has nothing to do with March Madness, but I had to work it in somehow. I just love the fact Knicks' brass thinks a 29-34 record in the pathetic Eastern Conference is a sign of "evident progress". Has the bar been lowered that far in the Big Apple? Sure, New York is better this year, but how hard is it to improve upon the 23 win season of a year ago? I hate the Knicks, yet even I feel sorry for the fans who are now destined to live in basketball purgatory for a few more years (at least). Actually, check that. I don't feel sorry for them at all. As far as I'm concerned, this is what they deserve for cheering on Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks and Anthony Mason when the Knicks' version of thugball nearly brought the NBA to its knees. Losers.

DON'T believe in a Florida repeat. There will obviously be many who disagree with me. I don't blame them. When the Gators are playing their best ball, NOBODY can beat them. And certainly, this past weekend saw them round into form much the same way they did at this time last year. But something's not quite right in the Swamp. Some will brush it aside saying they've just been a little bit bored waiting for the "real" games to begin. Maybe so. But I think there's something larger at work here. The Gators are vulnerable. And someone is going to unseat the champs.

DO believe in Acie Law IV. This guy is lugging around stones the size of Dick Vitale's mouth these days (Awful mix of imagery, I know. My bad). If you're playing against the Aggies, you better pray he doesn't have the ball in his hands with a chance to win. Because if he does, you're going home. Plus, he looks more like Humpty Hump than even Scottie Pippen does. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

He's Spunky and Likes His Oatmeal Lumpy

Fearless Final Four Forecast:
  • Florida: Yes, they're going down, but not before they reach Atlanta. No team in their region has what it takes to knock off the champs.
  • Georgetown: I've been on their bandwagon for awhile and it pains me to see so many others hopping on after their impressive showing at the Big East Tourney. That's not a good sign. But they have tons of size, experience and big game players. Plus, they play great defense and do a fabulous job of dictating tempo. In the bracket's toughest region, the Hoyas are my pick to survive.
  • Texas A&M: All the things I just wrote about Georgetown are also true of the Aggies. Plus, I think they match up very well with Ohio State (the South region's #1 seed).
  • Kansas: Two teams from the Big 12? Hey, nobody's more frightened than I am with this pick. Not only would it be wild to see a pair of Big 12 clubs in the Final Four, but the Jayhawks are notorious for choking when the stakes are raised. Yet, they've got as much talent as anyone and, yes, I think they're the team to take out the big, bad Gators.
As for the champ? That answer comes later this week. Until then, peace, love and Humptiness forever.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thursday's Newsmakers

Some reading before we get to the day's big news:

  • Have to start with this unbelievable story. I never thought the Houston astronaut tale would be topped, much less bested, within a matter of weeks. This is just too good to be true.
  • On a more serious note, John Hollinger explains the logic behind ranking Bill Russell 7th on his all-time NBA centers ballot. I would never put Boston's big man that low, but he does make some good points. For what it's worth, here's my top ten:
  1. Wilt Chamberlain
  2. Kareem Abdul Jabar
  3. Bill Russell
  4. Shaq
  5. Hakeem Olajuwon
  6. Moses Malone
  7. George Mikan
  8. Bill Walton
  9. David Robinson
  10. Patrick Ewing

Big story of the day is Willis McGahee's move to Baltimore. Funny, I remember being crestfallen when Willis blew out his knee in the Fiesta Bowl because I thought he's be perfect in the Texans' backfield (Houston had the 3rd overall pick in the draft that year). Of course, he's largely underachieved in his professional career thus far and his surly attitude has rubbed pretty much everyone the wrong way, which is exactly why Buffalo couldn't wait to get rid of him. By the way, this is exactly why I had the Bills taking Marshawn Lynch in the draft. Looks pretty good right now.

Can't blame Baltimore for bringing him in, McGahee is certainly a huge upgrade over the now-departed Jamal Lewis. And I suspect his fellow Hurricanes (Ed Reed and Ray Lewis) will keep in line, at least for the first year. Good move for the Ravens, when you consider this team is built to win NOW and the cost was two third rounders and a seventh. Of course, it won't mean anything until the Baltimore offense can finally put more than ten points on the board consistently. Steve McNair is D-O-N-E, so you know what that means. That's right, the Ravens ultimately will still live and die with the development of Kyle Boller. Good luck with that, Baltimore.

As for the aforementioned Jamal Lewis, I hear people saying this precludes them from taking Adrian Peterson at the three spot. Ummm, why? Again, there's nothing wrong with a two-back system, especially when Jamal Lewis has two good years left AT THE MOST. To me, this is exactly the same as the Texans signing Ahman Green. It helps to shore up a position of need for one year, two at the max. Which means that position is still fair game come draft day. That's why you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS either take the best player available, or do your best to trade down.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How Much Do Texans Love Vince?

"Brokeback Badminton On the Moon"

I think this brilliant picture says it all. It comes courtesy of poster, "Theo Huxtable" who used MS Paint to express his own personal man-crush on Vince Young. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm not sure I ever fully appreciated that worn-out axiom until I saw this timeless work of art. Well done, Theo. Well done.

Today's Links

A couple links to help you get through your humpday:
  • Dwight Howard is a freak. If you need further proof, check out his "kiss the rim" dunk from All-Star weekend. Some of the local sports guys here in Houston say they'd never even consider trading Yao Ming for Howard. Truth is, neither the Rockets or Magic would make that deal. But, as much as I like Yao, I'd take Howard in a heartbeat. His ceiling is practically limitless and Yao (like every other plodding big man before him) looks like he might be battling injuries from here on out.
  • And for those of you who can't watch "The Naked Gun" ever again solely because of O.J. Simpson's mere presence, you'll want to check out this story. It's like the guy is a pro wrestling heel now. He knows the world not only hates him, but will always hate him, so he's just going to feed the beast from now until the bitter end. Which can't come soon enough, by the way.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Shaking Things Up (Mock Draft Version 3.0)

Just a few things to address before we get to the new mock draft:
  • If you haven't already done so, make sure you check out the Peyton Manning link on this page. Still haven't confirmed whether or not this story is actually true, but if it is, we've just witnessed another fascinating chapter in the life and times of Mr. PeePee.
  • For you fans of the UFC, please watch this disturbing interview with Chuck Liddell. It reaches its climax at the 1:30 mark. Hopefully, he was hopped up on drugs and not turning into Muhammed Ali right before our eyes. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for one of the fasting growing sports, that's for sure.
  • And finally, I have to rip today's big free agent signing. Let's see, the Miami Dolphins boast an aging, past-its-prime defense so... naturally, they go out and sign an aging, past-his-prime player. And as if that's not enough, $20 million of that contract is guaranteed! Look, I like Joey Porter as a player. But, to me, this ranks right up there with the Leonard Davis signing as 2007's worst move. All I know is the Dolphins better be a force this year because, come 2008, their entire defense might be signing up for AARP.
Okay, enough foreplay. It's time once again to play everybody's favorite guessing game, Mock Draft 2007 (Version 3.0)!

+ -- underclassman

1. Oakland Raiders (2-14)

+ Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech

Last week, I promised a shake-up at the top so it shouldn't come as a surprise to see Calvin Johnson's name here. For one, he's the best player available and teams have known that since the start. It's just that stud quarterbacks are a rare breed, so there's more value placed on that position. But here's the question you have to ask yourself if you're Oakland's GM (and you should thank God every night that you're not): Is there a franchise QB available in this draft? Brady Quinn's stock is already dropping because of his question marks and the more scouts inspect JaMarcus Russell's body of work (not to mention his body, period), I think doubts will surface there, too. So look for Oakland to dump Randy Moss and replace him with a younger, stronger, just as freakish specimen without the baggage and with a better attitude.

You're #1, CJ. Welcome to Hell

2. Detroit Lions (3-13)
Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin

Would Detroit really pass on Russell and stick with Jon Kitna for the time being? Hard to believe, but I say yes. Rod Marinelli is old school and knows that the game is won in the trenches, so Thomas is the pick. Of course, the Lions could be fielding a million trade offers if this scenario takes place, so don't be surprised if Detroit decides to trade down a couple spots.

3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
+ JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

No way Russell drops out of the top three. Cleveland gets its man and can finally ditch the Charlie Frye experiment once and for all.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville

I'm pretty sure the Bucs would be heartbroken if this scenario unfolds (missing out on both Thomas and Johnson). In fact, I think Gruden and company might be so despondent that they momentarily lose their marbles and decide to draft Brady Quinn in an attempt to become the first NFL franchise to field a roster composed of nothing but quarterbacks. Think of the possibilities: "Rattay snaps to Simms, he hands off to Quinn, who gives the ball to Plummer on an end around but wait... now Plummer is throwing the ball all the way across the field to Gradkowski, who heaves a long bomb down the field to Garcia for a touchdown!!!". But instead, Tampa takes the boring way out and chooses my personal favorite, Amobi Okoye. I really want him on my team. And, yes, I know this is much earlier than most experts have him pegged, but his stock has been climbing since day one of the Senior Bowl workouts.

5. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
+ Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma

Why would Arizona take Peterson when they already have so much money invested in Edgerrin James? Well, in case you hadn't noticed, the two back system is alive and well in the NFL. Plus, Edge isn't exactly a spring chicken these days. Anyway, I just don't see Peterson falling out of the top five and remember, this could be a prime trade down area, too. One word of warning about AP: I heard a rumor that x-rays from the combine revealed his collarbone has not healed properly. If this is true, Texans' fans might get their wish and see Peterson slide toward the bottom half of the top ten.

6. Washington Redskins (5-11)
+ Gaines Adams, DE, Georgia

'Skins need help getting to the quarterback and Adams is the best pass rusher in the draft. I'm starting to feel pretty confident about this one.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame

Here's where things start to get very interesting. On the one hand, Minnesota invested a second-rounder in QB, Tavaris Jackson, just last year. But he sure didn't look ready to play at the end of the 2006 season. In reality, I think the Vikes will sign a Trent Green or trade for a David Carr rendering this mock pick moot. But until that happens, I'm giving them the not-so-mighty Quinn.

8. Houston Texans (6-10)
LaRon Landry, S, LSU

Before I address Landry, I should mention that Quinn to the Texans is starting to look more and more likely. David Carr is done in Houston. There's not a doubt in my mind. That day might not come for a couple of months, but mark my words, Carr will not be around come training camp. So if Quinn does fall in their laps, I just don't see how the Texans can pass on him. I'm not sure how I would feel about that. Not good, I'm guessing. On a related note, last year's draft day debacle just looks worse with every passing day, doesn't it? I said at the time that it could set this franchise back a decade and it still looks that way. Good gravy.

As for Landry, I know most teams don't like spending top ten picks on the safety position, but look what guys like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders have meant to their teams. Landry is a playmaker in that mold and would fill a major need for Houston.

Come Join Our Decade of Mediocrity, LaRon!

9. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Levi Brown, OT, Penn State

Speaking of filling a need, the Dolphins have to do something about that travesty they call an offensive line. I think Brown is a major reach here and I don't believe he's worth a top ten pick, but I also don't give Miami's front office much credit these days (see my Joey Porter rant above).

10. Atlanta (7-9)
+ Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas

I think the Falcons have their eyes on Ted Ginn and LaRon Landry here. But after losing Patrick Kerney to the Seahawks, it's time to shore up that defensive end spot, especially since John Abraham is an injury waiting to happen.

11. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
+ Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC

The 49ers' strategy is very clear at this point. They're building their defense through free agency, which means we can expect them to take care of the offense via the draft. I'm putting Jarrett here for now, but he HAS to run a decent 40 time during his private workout later this month. Otherwise, he'll be watching his stock go down faster than Jenna Jameson.

12. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
+ Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal

Looks like Buffalo is desperate to rid itself of Mr. Humility, Willis McGahee. So assuming they do that, Lynch would be the perfect replacement.

13. St. Louis Rams (8-8)
Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska

At some point, the Rams have to find some playmakers (outside of Leonard Little) on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps Carriker can fill the void created when fellow Cornhusker, Grant Wistrom, took his kamikaze act to the Pacific Northwest

14. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Alan Branch, DT, Michigan

This is much lower than Branch is projected, but rumors that he's lazy and takes plays off just won't go away. If he does fall here, John Fox would be more than happy to give him a home in Carolina next to Julius Peppers and Co.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss

Lose Joey Porter, then replace him with the hands-down, best linebacker in the draft. Steeler fans must sleep well at night knowing their front office always finds players, no matter where the club is drafting. I wonder how that feels?

16. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
+ Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State

Well, the Packers obviously need a running back to replace Ahman Green (trust me, Cheeseheads, you don't want to hitch your wagon to Vernand Morency), but there's no RB worth taking here. So why not put a stop to those silly Randy Moss rumors and take the human lightning bolt, known as Ted Ginn Jr.?

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan

I'm really not sold on Hall's credentials as a first round talent, but it's a weak CB crop and he's considered the best of the bunch. If the Jags don't take him, he's sure to go...

18. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)
Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas

... to the Bengals, who are desperate for secondary help. With Hall off the board, they take this year's Workout Warrior Award winner, Chris Houston. He ran a 4.32 in the 40 and ripped off 27 reps in the bench press part of the program. How does this relate to his football acumen? It doesn't, really, but someone will fall in those with those numbers and take him a little higher than he probably deserves.

19. Tennessee Titans (8-8)
+ Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina

Man, PacMan is such a jerk, isn't he? I mean, he is doing his best to negate all of the postive Vince Young karma. His off-field antics mean the Titans really need to start seriously considering DBs in the first round. But with the loss of Drew Bennett, Tennessee has to get VY some help at the wideout position. I say Rice is their man.

20. New York Giants (8-8)

+ Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh

The Giants' secondary is a mess and it's time to retool. Revis would be a solid start.

21. Denver Broncos (9-7)
+ Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia

Broncos are another team that really needs help when it comes to pressuring the QB. Johnson's stock seems to be slipping a bit, but he can help fill a need.

22. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
+ Reggie Nelson, S, Florida

Well, I'm finally giving the Cowboys the guy they truly covet. I hope it doesn't happen. But I'm feeling weak tonight, so here you go, Dallas. Too bad it won't matter as long as you have Wade roaming the sidelines.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
+ Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee

It's about time the Chiefs do something about their glaring need at WR. Why is it that great tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have thus far been cursed to play on teams with pathetic wide receivers?

24. New England Patriots (from Seattle)
Ben Grubbs, OG, Auburn

Grubbs is steadily moving up the draft board and New England loves to load up along the offensive and defensive lines. Perfect fit.

25. New York Jets (10-6)
Aaron Ross, CB, Texas

Gotta figure Mangini is perfectly happy to continue re-tooling his defense.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
+ Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State

Timmons didn't exactly light up the combine the way I expected, but I still think defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson would love to add him to his endless array of blitz packages.

27. New Orleans Saints (10-6)
Deymeion Hughes, CB, Cal

I'm very tempted to put Dwayne Bowe's name here. Local kid, who would help ease the pain of releasing another local guy, Joe Horn. But the Saints have to get better on the defensive side of the football (especially in the secondary) and Hughes is the best DB available. Yes, his combine times were slow, but he's better than the incumbent, Fred Thomas. Then again, I'm better than Fred Thomas, so I guess that's not saying much.

28. New England Patriots (12-4)
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State

Another possible landing spot for Bowe, but I'm guessing the Pats won't go WR in the first round after already spending a number two for Wes Welker. Instead, New England nabs the prototypical Patriot, Posluszny. The fit is almost too perfect.

29. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
+ Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida

Lose Adalius Thomas, draft another hybrid freak, Jarvis Moss. The Steelers, Patriots and Ravens just know how to land on their feet. It really is astounding.

30. San Diego Chargers (14-2)
Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU

Bowe finally comes off the board and, if he's here, the Chargers should be positively giddy. I think he might end up as the second best WR in his class (behind Calvin Johnson, of course).

31. Chicago Bears (13-3)
+ Greg Olsen, TE, Miami

Bears' fans have been desperate for a true pass-catching tight end, so I'll throw them a bone. Olsen lit up the combine, solidifying his status as the draft's top TE. Can those numbers translate on the field? Chicago will be perfectly happy to find out.

32. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue

Another Indianapolis 'tweener. Hey, it worked for them this year, didn't it? Thought about giving them Anthony Gonzalez as a guy to play the Brandon Stokely role, but do you spend a first round pick on a player you intend to use as a number three receiver? Probably not. Besides, Indy's title defense depends on its, well... defense. So Spencer, it is.

Mr. PeePee's Super Bowl Victory Tour Rolls On

Super Bowl or Sweet 16, Mr. PeePee Always Delivers the Goods

As, promised, a new and improved mock draft is on the way later this evening. But in the meantime, please treat yourself to this delicious dish. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Monday Musings

Wow, you know it's been an incredible sports weekend when I don't even have time to address Britney Spears' attempt to convince the world she's the Antichrist. Trust me, it hurts me more than it hurts you. So let's get down to business before I change my mind and start hypothesizing why the Britster might actually be telling us the truth.

Actually, I have one more twisted tidbit for you before getting serious. Today, released its list of of the top general managers in North American professional sports. Forget, if you can, the ridiculous fact that Kevin McHale tops the list, Cat Face (AKA Jerry Jones) is #13 and Oakland's baseball wizard, Billie Beane, doesn't show up until #26. No, the true travesty is Isiah Thomas appearing at #82, which is better than the superb Ozzie Newsome and Bryan Colangelo (among others). Something tells me the person who created the formula for this list probably had something to do with the Texans' draft day debacle.

Who's the Real Antichrist? Britney or This Guy?

Speaking of football, the NFL's annual free agent frenzy is upon us once again. Want to know why Cat Face isn't the 13th best GM in all the land? His Cowboys just forked over nearly fifty million dollars to fifty million pound O-Lineman, Leonard Davis. Let's think about this one logically, shall we? The Arizona Cardinals have fielded one of the league's worst O-lines for years. Davis has been the face of that woeful, underachieving unit ever since the Cards invested the number two overall pick on him six years ago. Do you really think Arizona would have happily waved goodbye to the former Longhorn if they held out any hope that his career could be salvaged? And is a giant contract really the best way to motivate Davis in the future? This is not going to end well, Cowboy fans. Of course, that was a done deal as soon as Cat Face named Wade Phillips his new head coach. Good job, Jerry.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on in New England. The Pats nabbed superfreak, Adalius Thomas, for a (relatively) paltry 5 year, 35 million dollar bargain. Throw in the newly acquired, do-it-all, Wes Welker and New England's pair of first round picks in the upcoming draft and you've got yet another reason why the Patriots remain pro football's model franchise and the odds-on favorite to take home another title in 2008.

Another move I liked: Travis Henry to the Broncos. He's a tough runner with a chip on his shoulder who should thrive in Denver's one-cut, zone-blocking scheme. Funny how someone who had almost completely fallen off the fantasy radar screen can quickly vault toward 2nd round status thanks to a solid year and a trade to the right team.

And how about the Bears? In a 24 hour span, Lance Briggs demands to be traded and Thomas Jones actually gets dealt to the Jets. Don't look now, but Chicago is shaping up to be a major player come draft day. Not only are they now the proud owners of picks 31 and 37 (thanks to the Jones deal), but I could definitely see Briggs becoming part of a draft day deal as well. Yes, there is a great deal of risk that comes with losing two guys who played such integral roles in the team's success a year ago, but if the Bears play their cards right, they may be sitting very pretty a couple months from now.

As for the Texans, their big move so far was the signing of Ahman Green. The money is a bit high (4 years, $23 million), but let's face it, this is only going to end up being a two year deal. There's no question the former Packer is better than anyone else in the Texans' backfield and, if he can stay healthy, should be capable of posting 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns. And to those who fear this might preclude Houston from taking Adrian Peterson, fear not. First of all, AP is not going to last until pick number eight. Secondly, with all the success teams have had utilizing a two-back system, do you really think the Texans would be stupid enough to pass on Peterson simply because they just signed 30 year old Ahman Green? On second thought, don't answer that.

Hey, speaking of the draft, my latest mock will arrives tomorrow. You've been warned.

Before we move to basketball, I wanted to spark a little debate. Recently, a friend asked me to rank my top ten NFL quarterbacks of all time. Here's my list (plus one). What does yours look like?

1. Joe Montana
Hated this guy when he played, but I have to respect him. Yes, he shared the field with great players and great teams. But you can't deny his ability to come through in the biggest games and the biggest situations.

Love or Hate Him, Joe's the Best

2. John Elway
Quite possibly the best physical tools we've ever seen at the position. Moved into the top 3 thanks to ending with two super bowls. Yes, he elevated lesser teams to Super Bowl status, but he also played in the weaker conference (didn't have to go through the 'Niners, Bears, Giants, Redskins and Cowboys every year). Therefore, I have to give Montana the nod.

3. Brett Favre
Can't argue with three MVPs, but has only one title and benefits from the media's man-crush on him.

4. Dan Marino
Probably deserves to be top 2 or 3, esepcially since he actually orchestrated more comebacks than Elway. Unfortunately, he never had a running game or defense, so with no titles, I can't justify slotting him above the others. Again, played in the weaker AFC, so only one SB appearance is tough to overlook.

5. Tom Brady
Really saw his greatness this year in his ability to lead a rather mediocre NE team within an eyelash of the SB. Pretty much a Montana clone and he clearly makes those around him better (see: Gaffney, Jabar). Plus, has a great shot to move up the SB title list in the next few years and, of course, move up this list as well.

6. Peyton Manning
Another guy who can obviously move up this list since he's only little more than halfway through his career. Can't put him ahead of Brady, though, because he only has the one title and he didn't exactly set the world on fire in this year's playoffs, outside of the second half of the NE game. Figures to have a great shot at top 3 status by the time everything is all said and done.

7. Johnny Unitas
The original Colt superstar QB. Of course, I never saw him play a snap (I'm not that old, so hold the snarky remarks), so this is based more on what I've read in the history books than anything else.

8. Terry Bradshaw
Only saw the twilight of his career to it's tough for me to judge him fairly. Played in a different era, so stats are tough to judge, too. Still, gotta love those 4 titles. Just wish he hadn't bared his wrinkled rear in that horrid movie with Kathy Bates.

9. Steve Young
Too bad we didn't get to see him come out of Montana's shadow until so late in his career. Doesn't help that concussions caused him to call it quits early, too.

10. Roger Staubach
Pretty much between Troy Aikman and Roger here. Had to go with the Midshipman because I think he was more of a leader than the great #8. If you're choosing best Cowboy QB ever, I think most would pick Staubach, and I agree with them.

11. Troy Aikman
See above.

As for Dan Fouts, Warren Moon and Jim Kelly: They put up huge numbers in pass friendly systems. All were great QB's, but I would never choose them over anyone in the top 11. Moon never even made it to a conference championship game and Fouts only did it once. Meanwhile, Kelly was the QB for a superior Bills' team whose fortunes were changed forever by a great gameplan courtesy of Bill Parcells and Scott Norwood's tough-luck miss.

Alright, a couple of basketball blurbs before I ride off into the sunset:

  • Kevin Durant HAS to win national player of the year. If anyone else takes home the hardware, college basketball might as well cancel the season and start taking tips from the NHL and pro wrestling on how to stay relevant and legitimate in the new millennium.
  • While we're on the subject of KD, it's worth nothing that Durant says his ankle will be okay for the Big 12 tournament. That's all fine and good, but I'm still wondering whether or not Texas (and Durant) might benefit from an early exit, just to make sure KD is good to go when the real tournament rolls around.
  • One final note on Durant: Remember when I said the Longhorns' March Madness journey is destined to end prematurely because of Texas' strange inability to get him the ball in crunch time? Well, check out what Bill Simmons had to say about this last Friday (scroll down to point three of his Texas-Texas A&M breakdown). I wouldn't go so far as to say Rick Barnes is a crappy coach, but you have to wonder why the 'Horns fall victim to this problem again and again.
Just Give Him the Damn Ball and Get Out of the Way, Rick.

  • In the NBA today, Yao Ming returned, but the Rockets lost (again). As I said last week, it's going to take time for Houston to adjust to Yao's presence. But with the way Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio are playing, it just doesn't look like it's going to matter.
  • Speaking of comebacks that won't alter the O'Brien trophy's ultimate destination, Dwyane Wade says he's going to put off surgery in an attempt to return to the court in time for the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, I admire the sentiment, especially since Miami's title window appears to be closing at the speed of light. But let's not kid ourselves. Wade's kamikaze style does not mesh with his recently damaged wing. There's just no way he'll be able to withstand the punishment sure to be inflicted in the postseason.
  • And finally, Ron Artest is in trouble again. I really couldn't care less about Ron-Ron, at this point. But I'm sad to see the great fans in Sacramento get screwed over like this. It seems like just yesterday, Arco was rockin' as their Kings boasted the NBA's most exciting team. Now, they're relegated to putting up with Artest's antics, not to mention a mediocre and starless style of ball and one has to wonder just how long California's capital will be able to hold onto its lone pro franchise.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Thanks, Jake

The Many Faces of Jakie-Poo. The Common Theme? Behind Each One Lies a Crappy Quarterback

I gotta tell you, I've never been a big fan of Jake Plummer. Call me crazy, but I just don't like hair-brained QBs who divide their teams and fans due to a lethal combination of tantalizing potential mixed with an uncanny knack for screwing up at the most inopportune of times. So when the Jake Plummer to the Texans rumors started circulating back in November, I felt as if I'd just been forced to look at for 8 straight hours (if you've seen it, then you know what I mean. And if you haven't, whatever you do, do not try to find it. No really, I'm serious. I'm begging you. DON'T DO IT. Your life will never be the same. OK, fine. Just don't say I didn't warn you). I mean, really? This was what the Texans needed? After five years of David Carr disappointment, our solution was signing Jake Plummer? We went from having the opportunity to pick Vince Young to trading for Jake the Snake in the span of 12 months? Was this franchise hoping to play every home game in an empty Reliant Stadium (not the worst idea, actually, considering the caliber of football on display during most autumn Sundays)?

But today, Jakie-Poo took a step toward endearing himself to Texans' fans forever. On the verge of being traded to Tampa Bay, Plummer has seemingly decided to call it quits. Now, there is one caveat that must be added here: This could very well be Jake's way of taking matters into his own hands and ensuring that he'll be able to slither right up to Gary Kubiak and put on a Houston uniform after all. In which case, I can pretty much resign myself to writing more nasty columns about the Texans' suckitude for the next year or so. Good times.

In other news, wide receiver Ashley Lelie reportedly spent the day in H-town while he looks for a new city to call home. This just provides further proof that any former Bronco will be welcome here, anytime. Lelie would certainly make the Texans better on Madden, but I'm not sure how much of an impact he'd actually have in real life. Yes, Lelie would provide a much-needed injection of speed on offense, but he's been an underachiever from day one of his NFL career and the Texans still need to find themselves a quarterback willing and able to actually throw the ball further than 5 yards down the field.

Also, there are whispers that Ahman Green could be wearing steel blue this fall, too. I guess that's nice. I mean, who wouldn't want a former Pro Bowl RB with about one or two years left in his career? Sorry to be so negative, but it's just hard to get excited about a team whose ceiling for the 2007 season is .500 football. And, yes, I know the NFL landscape can change in a hurry, but let's be honest here. The Texans' forecast for the following seasons doesn't exactly call for roses and rainbows either.

And finally, here's a trade scenario for you to ponder over the weekend:

Let's pretend Green Bay is crazy enough to trade its first rounder for Randy Moss (as part of some package. I can't imagine Moss would fetch a mid-first rounder straight up, at this point). This would give Oakland the 14th pick in the draft, as well as the first overall. It would also be a perfect spot for the Texans to trade down. There, they could take Marshawn Lynch, Levi Brown, or a host of others.

So here's my proposal: How about trading the Raiders our #8 and David Carr (giving them a QB to throw to Calvin Johnson, whom the silver and black would select number one) for Oakland's newly-acquired #14, a second rounder and then the Raiders' 2008 second rounder as well?
Reasonable or no? Sound off.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And remember, new mock draft on the way early next week.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Return of the Hack

Wow, I've really been slacking lately. Two posts in two weeks? That's unacceptable. Things have gotten so bad, even Charles Barkley is calling me fat and lazy. Of course, I would have kicked his plump posterior in that All-Star race, so he can just drown himself in another tub of Chunky Monkey and shut it. Anyway, I can deal with the insults. The part I can't handle is how far behind I am. Let a week in the world of sports go by and, suddenly, you're out of touch and irrelevant. So that means it's time to play catch-up, stream-of-consciousness style.

The Chuckster Cozies Up to His Next Meal

  • The NFL season never actually ends, does it? Hard to believe that nearly one month ago, I was mourning the loss of pro football for another eight months, yet it still manages to steal the spotlight on a weekly basis. Kind of says something about the current state of thugball, roidball and mulletball (AKA the NBA, MLB and NHL). I could easily riff on the NFL for an entire column right now, but I'll keep it short and (somewhat) sweet for the time being.
  • First of all, for those of you who enjoyed the heartwarming tale of Najeh Davenport, feast your eyes on this story about the divorce proceedings involving Amani Toomer. Make sure you read the entire thing, because they saved the best part for the end. Trust me.
  • Now, in matters that actually relate to what takes place on the field, the Randy Moss rumor mill is heating up. One published report has Mr. Happy Pants heading to the land of lard for Green Bay back-up QB, Aaron Rodgers. Forget for a moment that this deal is likely little more than your typical run-of-the-mill internet fodder. The truly important nugget is that the Raiders seem intent on ditching the disgruntled, past his prime, Moss. What does that mean? Get ready for a draft board shake-up. I think Oakland will find itself a semi-serviceable quarterback via trade (the aforementioned Rodgers or David Carr, perhaps?), free agency (Brad Johnson, Drew Bledsoe or Joey Harrington) or later in the draft (Drew Stanton or John Beck). As for their number one pick? It will be none other than the best player on the board, Calvin Johnson.
CJ Attempts to Run Away From Al Davis
  • Obviously, if this scenario takes place, it would send teams scrambling to re-evaluate their options. Would Detroit still nab Joe Thomas, even after JaMarcus Russell fell into their laps? Like I said, I could write an entire column on this. But I'll save it for next week's revised Mock Draft. Needless to say, I'm really hoping the Raiders follow through with this plan. Not only would it make me look smart (always appreciated), but it would also add a major dose of much-needed intrigue to a somewhat lackluster draft.
  • Hope you had a chance to watch last night's Texas-Texas A&M game. Not only was it an absolute treat to see two rivals trading blows in late February, but the stars delivered the goods as well. Kevin Durant is making it increasingly difficult for NBA teams to keep Greg Oden at the top of their draft board and Acie Law continues to solidify his standing as the most clutch player in the college game.
  • As for each team's prospects come tourney time: A&M will be just fine, thank you. They play tough D, have a great coach and a go-to guy in crunch time. They're going to be a very difficult out and while I doubted their final four prospects earlier this season, I think the Aggies are a lock for at least the Elite Eight now. Sizing up Texas is much more difficult. Any team with Durant and D.J. Augustin is going to be a handful. But the Longhorns have two fatal flaws that will prove to be their undoing, probably in the round of 16. Number one: They still suffer through stretches where they simply can't get the ball into the hands of Durant. Number two: Augustin is their lone ball-handler, making UT susceptible to a team adept at playing a trapping, pressing style.
  • In the NBA, The Spurs are waking up, the Rockets are falling down and Miami knows any chance it had to repeat as champions disappeared the moment Dwyane Wade was placed in a wheel chair after dislocating his shoulder (WTF?!?). So this seems as good a time as any to reprise my NBA "True Contender" Power Rankings.
1. Dallas Mavericks (48-9)

The more I see the Mavs, the more I believe nothing can stop them except the injury bug. Seriously. This team has no weakness. Well, maybe a teeny-tiny one: That little voice in their heads that reminds them of their choke-job last summer. Still, Avery Johnson is too mentally tough to let a psychological hurdle keep his troops from lifting the O'Brien trophy in June.

2. Phoenix Suns (44-14)

The Suns look human these days, sporting a rather pedestrian 6-4 record during their last ten games. Of course, injuries have a lot to do with that. Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw have all missed time during that stretch and, since Phoenix only goes seven deep, the Suns have suffered as a result. Still, Phoenix is unquestionably the second-best team in the league and I can't wait to see how Nash and Co. fare in the playoffs.

3. San Antonio Spurs (39-18)

Winners of six in a row, San Antonio seems to have finally awoken from its season-long slumber. Yet, everything I said about the top three title contenders three weeks ago holds true now. Meaning the Spurs should never, ever be counted out, but their odds are long due to the NBA's evolution which places a premium on speed and athleticism (which Dallas and Phoenix have, but San Antonio doesn't).

And, folks, that's it. Yes, this week I've narrowed the list from five to three. The Rockets failed to add anything of consequence (sorry, Jake Tsakalidis, you don't count) at the trade deadline, meaning their aging, worn-out reserves aren't getting any help. True, Yao Ming's return (when is that happening again? Mid-March? Late March? April 2009? I'm confused.) will inject new life into a weary lineup, but I just can't see Houston putting everything together in time to storm its way past the Mavs, Suns and Spurs. And if you think I'm being too harsh, let's just say my spirits were not buoyed by losses to Toronto, Boston and Atlanta over the course of the last week.

As for everybody else, well, the only other teams with a legitimate shot are Miami and Detroit. Wade's injury crushes the Heat, even if he does decide to come back. You think a player who makes his living by hurling his body into harm's way again and again is going to make it through and entire postseason without re-injuring his shoulder? No way. So Miami's D-O-N-E. Detroit? Hey, I think the Tigers will be fun to watch this this summer.

Back early next week (for real this time!) with a new Mock Draft. Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Has the Whole World Lost Its Head?

Wow. I go underground for a few days and all of a sudden the outside world loses its collective mind. Britney shaves her head. Scottie Pippen contemplates a return to the NBA. And the Chargers drop a deuce on the Lombardi Trophy. Needless to say, there's a lot to address. So let's get right to it.

First of all, I couldn't be more distraught about San Diego's decision to name Norv Turner as its new head coach. No, I'm not a Chargers' fan. In fact, I don't really have any strong feelings about them one way or the other. But they do have an immense amount of talent and, in the NFL's salary cap era, that's a rarity. And since a team like this doesn't come around too often, you just can't afford to waste an opportunity like the one San Diego is staring at.

Now, say what you will about Marty Schottenheimer (and I have), but at least he can say he led his teams to the playoffs. Turner has done that exactly ONCE in his nine seasons as a head coach. Why on earth would you entrust the most talented squad in professional football to this guy? On what grounds do you base this decision? And can someone please explain the NFL's fascination with coaching retreads to me?

Nothing Like a 58-82-1 Lifetime Record to Get the Locals Excited

In the last two weeks, we've witnessed two of the NFL's more talent-laden teams (San Diego and Dallas) dip into the recycle bin to fill their most important vacancies. And we're not talking about Chuck Noll and Tom Landry here. We're talking about Norv freaking Turner and Wade freaking Phillips. Between the two of them (14 full seasons), here are their head coaching credentials:

106-121-1 Regular Season Record

1-4 Postseason Record

And that's it. But, apparently, that was enough for both guys to get their third ride on the NFL head coaching carousel. What, were Rick Kotite and Joe Bugel not available? Nonetheless, I fully expect plenty of pro football "experts" to predict at least one of these guys will make a Super Bowl appearance in 2008. Just don't say I didn't warn you when both fall short thanks, in large part, to the fact they're both much better suited to coordinator positions.

On a related note, there's a famous scene in "When Harry Met Sally" where Harry explains that it's simply impossible to have great sex with certain people because they're cursed with dumb names. Harry uses the name "Shelden" as an example, but he might as well have used "Wade" or "Norv", because neither guy is going to take you where you want to go. Memo to NFL owners: If you're looking for a guy to take you to the top of the NFL mountain, you might want to roll the dice with a guy named Bill. Because when it comes to Super Bowls, Walsh, Parcells, Belichick and Cowher certainly knew how to lead their clubs to a satisfied and euphoric climax.

Sally Learns the Hard Truth About Wade and Norv

As for Scottie Pippen... yawn. This is even more of a non-event than Deion Sanders' ill-fated comeback with the Ravens a year ago. However, I do hope some desperate club gives him a shot. Because as a lifelong non-fan of Pippen, I'll be ecstatic to see the horrified look on his face when mediocre guys like Ricky Davis and Chucky Atkins are lighting him up. More than likely, though, this will end with a ten day contract and a hamstring pull. If you're really that starved for attention, Scottie, go perform your number one smash-hit, "Humpty Dance" on Dancing with the Stars.

"Dancing With the Stars" is Waiting for You, Scottie

Finally, I've just one thing to say about Ms. Spears: Which shaved body part was more disturbing?

Welcome back, world. I'll try not to you unattended for an extended period of time ever again.

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Columns Resume Wednesday

First of all, an apology for the extended break. Unforeseen circumstances dictated a longer-than-expected hiatus. My bad. On the plus side, I have not shaved my head, nor have I acquired any neck tattoos (that I know of), so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Anyway, regular updates on the C.C.C. will resume Wednesday. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coming Out of the Bigotry Closet

You have to hand it to Tim Hardaway. Honestly, I think it's great that he said what he said. Of course, the content of his diatribe is ridiculous. But it's potentially positive because it exposes the ridiculous line of thinking that, unfortunately, has been adopted by a huge portion of the population. Even better, it forces people to discuss a topic that's usually considered taboo. And, as far as I'm concerned, that's ALWAYS a good thing.

On the court, huge re-match between the Rockets and Mavs tonight. This time, Houston gets Dallas at the Toyota Center, so it should be a much more competitive game than last week's laugher. That said, the Mavs are just too good right now and much too athletic for a still short-handed Rockets' squad. Dallas wins a squeaker, 101-99.

One other rant before I go: I'd like to hear from the people who don't think Steve Nash isn't the MVP because he plays with an All-Star team. Oh really??? How good do they look without him now?

I know this argument is played out, but I get so tired of people knocking Nash because of his *Great* supporting cast. Look, I love Shawn Marion, but don't people notice how he transforms from great to merely good (or average) when Nash isn't around? Yet, I'm sure when Phoenix gets healthy and goes on another big roll I'll have to listen to haters saying Nash is just benefiting from his cast of All-Star teammates. Just please do me a favor and keep reminding those knuckleheads that it's the other way around.

Have to get that off my chest once a year.

New NBA column coming tomorrow.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Mock Draft Version 2.0 (AKA The Brady Bust)

Brady, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Amaechi

Now that professional football's most irrelevant event (also known as the Pro Bowl, although I'm willing to listen to arguments claiming the Super Bowl tops the list) has come and gone, we can finally focus all of our attention on the NFL draft. We're already seeing some wild fluctuation in player value (hello, Brady Quinn) and with the combine just around the corner, expect much more to change in the days and weeks to come. So with the usual caveats, let's delve into the mock draft mire once again as we release Version 2.0.

x -- still to be determined by coin flip
+ -- underclassman

1. Oakland Raiders (2-14)

+ JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

Russell remains the pick at number one. There have been whispers that Oakland could play the best available card and choose Calvin Johnson instead. But at the end of the day, I'm convinced the Raiders will make Russell a very rich man. He possesses the highest upside of any quarterback in this draft and we all know how much the Raiders love big-armed QBs. The question remains; will Oakland ruin Russell's career before it even begins?

2. Detroit Lions (3-13)
Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin

My, how things have changed for Brady Quinn. Rewind to the final week of the NFL's regular season. Pundits were wondering whether the Lions should tank their final game to ensure the number one spot and a chance to select Notre Dame's signal-caller. Then Quinn and the Irish get pounded by Russell's Tigers and now scouts are calling Brady one of the draft's most overrated prospects (and since I can't pass on a chance to pat myself on the back, let me add that I've been saying the same thing for months now). Anyway, now it looks like Quinn could be poised for a free fall ala Aaron Rodgers circa 2005. Don't believe me? Check out the teams following Detroit? Who's going to take a sliding QB prospect if the Lions don't? This could be the story of the draft. At any rate, the Lions go the safe (and smart) route, selecting Joe Thomas to anchor their O-Line for the next decade.

3. x-Cleveland Browns (4-12)
+ Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma

I fully expect Peterson to leave scouts salivating at the combine. I don't care if he performs or waits until OU's pro day, one look at his chiseled physique will elicit enough man crushes to fill a Harlequin romance novel penned by John Amaechi. Okay, that was a cheap shot (and about a week late). My bad.

4. x-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
+ Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech

If Johnson fall to the Bucs at four, Jon Gruden (and Chris Simms) should throw an epic pirate party. Grog and galleons for everyone!

Chucky's Ready for a Pirate Party!

5. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Alan Branch, DT, Michigan

The Cards are desperate for a pass rush so this pick comes down to whether they want to generate pressure from the inside or outside. Branch, Gaines Adams and Jamaal Anderson are all in play here.

6. Washington Redskins (5-11)
+ Gaines Adams, DE, Georgia

'Skins need help getting to the quarterback, too, so Adams should fit the bill quite nicely.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
LaRon Landry, S, LSU

High for a safety, but Landry is as good as it gets and he fills a major need for the Vikes.

8. Houston Texans (6-10)
Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville

You know what? I can live with this pick. Look, I hate picking a D-linemen four year in a row, too. But getting a 19 year old Tommie Harris sounds pretty good to me. And considering the Texans' infatuation with high character guys, you have to figure they'll fall in love with Okoye. Yes, they're desperate for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, but unless they trade back (a definite possibility), it's just not going to happen in the first round.

The Man to Lead Us to 8-8

9. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
+ Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas

With Jason Taylor flirting with retirement (he won't) and the rest of the Dolphins' D filing for AARP, it's time for an injection of youth.

10. Atlanta (7-9)
+ Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State

Considering Bobby Petrino's offensive background, you'd have to think he'd sell his soul to field an offense featuring the speed of Ginn, Vick and Norwood. Wow. I'm not a Falcon (or Vick) fan, but even I'd LOVE to see that.

11. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
+ Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC

Yes, the 'Niners need big-time help on defense. And Adam Carricker would be awfully tough to pass up here. But I say San Fran learns from the Texans' mistake. They saw Houston neglect David Carr's supporting cast and they know what happened. So here you go, Alex Smith. You've got Jarret, you've got Frank Gore and you've got Vernon Davis. Go to work.

12. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska

If the Bills want to reach to fill a need, they can take Levi Brown. Remember, they did plenty of reaching last year. But I think Carricker is just too good to pass up.

13. St. Louis Rams (8-8)
+ Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia

Johnson and Leonard Little would be a wrecking crew on the Rams' artificial turf.

14. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Levi Brown, OT, Penn State

A boring (but solid) pick that fills a need. Carolina's offensive line was a joke last year.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
+ Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida

To anyone who questions whether this is the right pick, I ask only that you go back and watch the tape of the national championship game. That's all.

16. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
+ Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal

This pick is the equivalent of every ESPN expert predicting New Orleans to beat Chicago in the Super Bowl. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has had Lynch to the Packers from day one. It's just too obvious, isn't it?

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame

No, I didn't forget about him. This is where the free-fall stops. I know it seems unlikely now, but this guy is getting ripped to shreds. Of course, the tide could turn again if he falls into the "so blasted for being overrated that he's underrated" category. To be sure, there are teams with QB needs after Detroit. Heck, he could go to the Browns at number three. But he could just as easily slide to the Chiefs at twenty three. As for the Jags, Jack Del Rio has pissed off both Byron Leftwich and David Garrard, so he needs someone to quarterback his team.

18. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan

Deltha O'neal and Tory James were exposed as frauds this year, so it's time to bring in some help (preferably, of the non-criminal variety).

19. Tennessee Titans (8-8)
+ Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina

Seems pretty apparent that this pick is a wide receiver. Rice, Jarrett (if he slips) and Robert Meachem would all be perfectly happy to hitch a ride on VY's coattails.

20. New York Giants (8-8)

+ Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh

The Giants' secondary is a mess and it's time to retool. Revis would be a solid start and don't be surprised if he surpasses Hall as the number one CB on the board come draft day.

21. Denver Broncos (9-7)
+ Reggie Nelson, S, Florida

Still think the Cowboys are dying to get their hands on Nelson, so I still think a trade is exceedingly possible here.

22. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State

If they can't nab Nelson, however, Posluszny would look good with a star on his helmet (if such a thing is actually possible). His draft stock will likely be determined by the status of his surgically repaired knee.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
Deymeion Hughes, CB, Cal

K.C. is primed for a major fall. Look at their roster. They are old and slow. Pretty much every position but RB and TE is in play here.

24. New England Patriots (from Seattle)
Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss

Best LB in the draft. A pure, instinctive football player who would be a great addition to the Pats, especially with Bruschi and Vrabel aging.

25. New York Jets (10-6)
Aaron Ross, CB, Texas

Gotta figure Mangini is perfectly happy to continue re-tooling his defense.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
+ Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State

Timmons is almost the anti-Willis. He's an athletic freak, but is he a football player? Wouldn't be surprised to see him move up 5 or 6 spots after he lights up the combine.

27. New Orleans Saints (10-6)
+ Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee

I know the Saints' offense is loaded, but do you really think Mini-Martz will resist the urge to add yet another game-breaking weapon to his offense? Remember, Joe Horn is pretty much done.

28. New England Patriots (12-4)
LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Michigan

I know it seems like WR is the way to go here, but after taking Chad Jackson last year and seeing Tom Brady turn Jabar Gaffney into Marvin Harrison, I seriously doubt the Patriots feel a burning need to spend another first round pick on a wideout.

29. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU

With Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, the Ravens can use some size at the WR position. Bowe certainly brings that.

30. San Diego Chargers (14-2)
+ Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State

Man, the Chargers would be bummed to see both Bowe and Meachem gone. But Gonzalez isn't a bad consolation prize. His key (like pretty much every other WR) will be what he runs in the 40. And by the way, for those wondering about my thoughts on the Schottenheimer firing: Yes, I think the Chargers will be just fine and probably better off come postseason play. It's a shame they didn't make this move sooner, but bring in a Ron Rivera or, my personal favorite, Mike Singletary and I think San Diego will be right back in the Super Bowl mix. Disregard everything, however, if Norv Turner is the pick.

31. Chicago Bears (13-3)
Arron Sears, OG, Tennessee

Hard to see something appetizing for Chicago here (besides a new quarterback, of course). So I think they'll keep building where it counts: in the trenches.

32. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue

Another Indianapolis 'tweener. Hey, it worked for them this year, didn't it?